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Smithtown West shot putter Ben Bonhurst wins Suffolk championship while following in mom's footsteps

Smithtown West's Ben Bonhurst prepares to throw the

Smithtown West's Ben Bonhurst prepares to throw the shot put at the Suffolk Boys Large School Track Championships. (Feb. 2, 2013) Credit: Daniel De Mato

Ben Bonhurst knew his mother could throw. Every so often, the Smithtown West junior would leaf through a book of newspaper clippings and read about her high school accomplishments, marveling at what she meant to her school.

"People talk about my mom like she was a [legend] in high school," Bonhurst said. "When I graduate, I want to be talked about like that."

Haidee Ganz-Bonhurst was a standout shot putter at Syosset before competing at Penn State. After leaving the baseball team last spring, Ben decided to follow in his mom's footsteps by joining the track squad.

And follow he has -- in championship fashion. Bonhurst won the large school Suffolk County shot put championship Saturday at Suffolk Community College in Brentwood, throwing 57 feet, 4 inches.

His mom was looking on. That's no surprise though. She's his coach.

Haidee, a Smithtown physical therapist, had also competed in college, and Smithtown West asked her to guide the school's throwing unit. Although she hadn't coached before, she obliged.

Ben doesn't mind having his mother on the sideline. In fact, he enjoys it.

"It's a fun experience," he said. "She pushes me very hard. She knows what she's talking about."

The quick success, according to mom, is a product of Ben's hunger for knowledge.

He spends hours on YouTube, looking to improve his form by studying the best in the country. So far, he has found that the spin -- typically a harder technique, according to coach mom -- is his method of choice.

"You have to be very quick in the circle," he said.

Despite being so good so quickly, Bonhurst is still adjusting to the competition mindset of an individual sport. He spent years on the baseball diamond working as part of a team. Now, he's all alone.

"I love this because it's all self,'' he said. "It doesn't matter if your team is doing well because if you're doing bad, it's on you. You have to fix it."

But with his mom looking at every throw, he'll have help when he needs it. That's certainly one reason for his success.

The other?

"I'm hoping it's my gene-tics," Haidee said. "I have to take some credit for it, right?

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